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Over 90 local building and supply contractors have attended Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program’s (SIIP) first Workforce Skills Series workshop, designed to lift the quality and competitiveness of construction in Solomon Islands.

Australia’s SBD1.5-billion-dollar infrastructure partnership with Solomon Islands is delivering the free training series to promote skills, knowledge and expertise for local companies to create more local jobs and deliver better results.

The first workshop, held on Thursday in Honiara, targeted the preparation of tender submissions by local firms. Next month, a second half-day workshop will be held on contract administration.

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SIIP’s Procurement and Contracts Specialist Ken Munro said the workshops are a great opportunity for local contractors and builders interested in the promise of local jobs and industry opportunities.

“These practical workshops give potential bidders a better understanding of the main components of a tender document and learn from the mistakes frequently made by bidders,” Mr Munro said.

“It also enables us to answer questions from local firms on the tendering process and learn more about what the industry wants in future Workforce Skills Series workshops,” said Mr Munro.

Opening the event, SIIP Deputy Team Leader, Johanne Bawden said SIIP was excited to be able to move beyond traditional infrastructure building programs to also help lift the skills and capacity of the broader infrastructure sector.

“Our aim is to also support local businesses to be competitive and be involved wherever possible in working with SIIP to deliver national and provincial infrastructure priorities,” Ms Bawden said.

“Industry strengthening and capacity development – like these Skills Series workshops, are crucial in bringing opportunities within the reach of local companies, local suppliers, and within local communities where infrastructure is being delivered and then maintained and operated.”

Delivering his remarks at the event, Solomon Water CEO Ian Gooden encouraged local contractors and builders to submit bids.

“We want a good number of bidders. We want to receive tenders, we want you to do the work and we want you to make a profit,” Mr Gooden emphasized.

“If you are unsuccessful, ask for feedback. Why were you unsuccessful, what did you miss, how can you do better? Complete the work on time so that we can supply water for our people. So, time is critical, with the right experience and skills.”

Julie Gegeu Haro, Managing Director of Premier Construction, Civil and Earthworks and Project Management and executive board member of Solomon Islands Women in Business, said the SIIP Skills training identified an opportunity for local contractors to pool their expertise when bidding for tenders and an opportunity for women both in the formal and informal sector to participate in nontraditional businesses such as the industry.

“Instead of bidding alone, we should be looking at ways we can work together to overcome a lack of expertise in one criteria or another. This will ensure we are considered under SIIP’s local content and inclusive principles they are striving to achieve.

Ms Bawden said SIIP would continue to work with industry to develop ideas for future trainings so that the Skills Series responded to what was needed.

“We encourage all businesses to get the most from these infrastructure skills development opportunities. SIIP’s focus on safety, quality, climate resilience and inclusion should be the focus of each and every individual and business operating in the planning, construction and maintenance of hard infrastructure in Solomon Islands.”

“I encourage you to take advantage of SIIP’s twin goals of demonstrating improved infrastructure practices, with lifting the standard of industry skills and policy settings,” said Ms Bawden. Meanwhile presentations at the workshop were made by SIIP’s Procurement and Contracts Specialist Ken Munro, Infrastructure Project Coordinator Andrew Maebiru and Bred Bank’s Lepani Makubuna on tender documents, standard processes, evaluation and scoring, and bank guarantees

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